Highwind just finished Panzer Dragoon Saga

[By this guy here.]

Holy cow. I GET IT.

I don’t know where to begin.

The style and atmosphere of the game are incredible. It’s like HR Giger, Ancient Egyptians and the Japanese got together to create a desolate – alien – dying world.

That said – good god the graphics are terrible. I mean – wow. No wonder the Saturn flopped. Everything is so chunky and choppy and blurry it’s insane. The draw distance is really bad. The fact that the concept art, style and visual design are so incredible makes the horrendous graphics that much more depressing. I can’t imagine how great this game would look even on a PS2.

The music is astoundingly fitting with the universe. Its very brooding – often minimalistic – but sometimes bombastic when the time is right. Definitely up there in my opinion with best music ever in an RPG. Top 5 for sure.

I love how few random encounters there are. I’m not even sure if there ARE random encounters or if all of the battles are somehow triggered precisely on your progress. But this makes flying around and just exploring the areas really enjoyable. You level up naturally – no need for useless grinding. You get more powerful simply as you progress through the game – and there’s no nonsense otherwise.

The battle system is great and it is absolutely INSANE that no one has tweaked or simply ripped it off. The battles are much more like puzzles than simply mashing on the attack button. You actually have to THINK and engage in how to take down the enemies and it’s all the more rewarding when you do.

The story is cliche but I like it. I’m a sucker for it. Ancient mysterious powerful girl – fight to regain human freewill – blah blah. It works – I’m down with it every time, apparently.

EVERYTHING is in Japanese – the whole game is in subtitles and even the end game credits are all in kanji. Wat. Did SEGA even try to localize this game whatsoever? I have no idea why they even printed the 30k copies that they did in the US. Really weird.

Oh guess what guys? FLYING ON A DRAGON IS AWESOME. Why are there not more RPGs where you get to fly around on a dragon? Can someone fix this immediately? Thanks.

It’s also a great length. 12-14 hours long. Can we get more RPGs this length – instead of uselessly padding them to 40-100 hours?

In summation – I loved it. The art style, battle system, atmosphere and music are so unique it’s incredibly memorable and enjoyable. I would love to commission an artist for some paintings based on the art. It’s that good.

It’s craaaaaaazy that these innovations are just seemingly lost and ignored. Why are JRPGS still cranking out the same tired Dragon Quest mechanics when innovations like Panzer Dragoon Saga existed FIFTEEN years ago. Sad.

Is it worth the $300-$450 its going for now? I don’t know. That’s up to the buyer – I guess. I recently paid $120 for a Fleetwood Mac concert I didn’t want to go to for my brother’s birthday. So whatever. olol.

So I played Remember Me, and then I stopped.

Why is parkour still a thing in video games now? It was a key component in Assassins Creed and Mirror’s Edge, and it should have stopped there. (I’ll accept inFamous, too, because at least it’s fun then.)

But, here we are, still climbing up the sides of buildings. Like, EVERYONE can climb the sides of buildings so easily. Doesn’t that seem like a really hard thing to do? That didn’t used to be a thing. In older video games, when we came to a wall we were like, “Well, I guess we better find a way around it.” But now everyone’s trying to just climb over it.

It’s a cute idea, but you can’t put that genie back in the bottle. In the old days the question was, “If I have a grenade launcher, why can’t I explode that locked door off its hinges?” Now it’s, “If I can climb THAT wall, why can’t I climb EVERY wall??” It’s funny. As aesthetics get more realistic, the occasional inconsistencies with video game verisimilitude become more insufferable.

But then, hey, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised parkour is so present in a French game. A French sci-fi game. About memories. Called Remember Me.

The Ghost in the Shell series was a very dire and realistic meditation on the nature of technological progress and its influence on politics, the planet, and the self. It’s a crime drama first, but the themes of memories and identity run throughout all of the proceedings.

Meanwhile, Remember Me opens like, “You lost your memories! Because a company called Memorize decided they could do whatever they wanted with your memories! Now take ’em down, so we can all have our memories back! Even if you have to mess with other people’s memories! And remember to remember to memorize memories!”

Now, isn’t it kind of obvious that the big twist is gonna come when you get your memories back? I know it’s a sci-fi, but it feels really silly and regressive to just make your plot actually involve what your game is thematically addressing.

Maybe I’m getting stuck on this, but… You’re supposed to use the plot to convey the point, the same way you use a frying pan to cook a steak. You can’t take the meaning of the game and then build the plot on that. You can’t cook a steak with another steak.

To be fair, there is other stuff going on in the game: the haves vs. the have-nots. The rich can afford to relive their own happy memories, while the impoverished can only scrape together the memories of others and go nuts in the process. There’s even a character early on whose decision to do something drastic is based on a very expensive hospital bill she has to pay. It actually feels just barely relevant at times.

But it’s not just plot and aesthetics you use to convey meaning: it’s mechanics. The script seems to be telling us that the game is about the malleability of the human psyche, and that my character is a genius hacker. If that’s so, how come I spend less time rewriting people’s memories – which is, in fact, a very neat and juicy bit of the game – and more time punching junkies and climbing up and down the sides of walls?

The thing is, Remember Me isn’t the first game that’s about running toward a glowing waypoint or climbing and punching things like a drunk amnesiac baboon. But it’s the last one I deign to play.

re: Abstraction

[by a man named Dreamknight]

I think neglect of the battle system is why the genre is now more or less going extinct. Most people just can’t take grinding through dungeons for 30 hours anymore.

I think its bigger than JRPGs.

By and large more powerful technology has removed many of the abstractions we used to have in games. Back in the day it was challenging to land a jump in Tomb Raider because Lara was stuck on a grid and the low visual fidelity made it hard to gauge if you could make a jump or not. These abstractions made the act of jumping and exploring in itself a challenge. Now we have games where you can hold down a button and cling to the world in lightning fast real time.

JRPGs are going through the same thing, things aren’t abstracted through menus anymore, why use a menu when you can swap weapons and spells on the fly? And just mash X to win like in Kingdom Hearts/Crisis Core?

Abstractions are probably the most meaningful component of a video game that most forget about, or even complain about. They may seem artificial but I feel they are vital in setting up the thematic/mechanical beats that get a player involved and invested.

The proliferation of large game worlds is problematic too, a lot of open world titles where traversal is a boring chore. How many games give us this large field to run around in and then make us resort to using the dodge roll to get through the screen quickest? (NIER)

When we had pre-rendered backgrounds and little space for data, game directors had to be picky and convey the most atmosphere with the smallest space.

For example, all the love it gets, I always found that MGS3 failed to bring the sense of precise, deliberate design that MGS1 and 2 had by taking place in a nondescript and open jungle area.